SOFIA, February 2, 2016
Two seeds and last year’s ATP most improved player were in action on Day 2 of the €520,070 Garanti Koza Sofia Open, held at Arena Armeec.
The tournament’s number five Philipp Kohlschreiber showed a decent performance when he defeated Sergiy Stakhovsky on centre court, winning 6-2, 6-2 in the pair’s third tour meeting. The world number 34 from Germany won 71% of his first service points and capitalized on six of his 12 break point chances to prevail in 69 minutes. Kohlschreiber gained a 2-1 lead in head to head records over the Ukrainian to set a second round meeting with Damir Dzumhur. The 23-year-old Bosnian outlasted Jiri Vesely 6-3, 3-6, 6-3. Dzumhur withstood eight aces and broke his opponent’s service three times to advance after one hour and 34 minutes.
“The key today was my return of serve, breaking early in each set,” said Kohlschreiber. “The Centre Court is a little bit slow, so you can take advantage of the short ball. I think I played a very good match.”
Sixth seed Gilles Muller sealed a second comfortable victory over Malek Jaziri in the pair’s second tour meeting. The 32-year-old from Luxembourg fired 16 aces, winning all of his first service points to finish the encounter with facing a break point after only 61 minutes. Muller, who reached the semi-finals during the year’s second week in Sydney, will face the winner of the match between Ricardas Berankis and Bulgarian wild card Dimitar Kuzmanov.
“For sure it helped breaking early on, especially as I didn’t feel my serve in the first two or three games,” told Muller. “I wasn’t serving that well and I didn’t hit a lot of first serves into court. It’s always difficult playing indoors, having played outdoors for a few weeks and recovering from jet lag. I knew what to expect and it was a tough match.”
Qualifier Marius Copil caused the upset of the day, winning 6-2, 6-3 over Hyeon Chung. The only 19-year-old Korean earned most improved honours last year, after jumping from world number 173 to 51st position in the ATP rankings but was without any chance in the altitude of Sofia (500m-800m). Copil hit six aces and won 85% of his first service points to celebrate victory after exactly one hour of play. The 25-year-old Romanian will face the winner of the encounter between eighth seed Adrian Mannarino and Evgeny Donskoy.
Thiemo de Bakker cruised past Matthew Ebden, winning 6-4, 6-1 only 60 minutes and Serbian Filip Krajinovic downed Turkish wild card Marsel Ilhan with a 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 victory after one hour and 35 minutes in the evening session.
This week Bulgaria’s capital celebrates the return of an ATP World Tour event since the 1980 and 1981 tournaments at the Grand Prix Circuit. Tournament director Erhan Oral is hopeful that after a successful first edition, more ATP World Tour players will make the trip to Bulgaria’s capital city.
“Sofia is a very accessible city,” Oral told ATPWorldTour.com. “I know how difficult it is for players to travel to different cities around the world. But in Sofia everything is very close, so it is very convenient for the players.”
The tournament is held at Arena Armeec, a multifunctional sports hall opened in 2011 with a capacity of 14,000 seats, representing the country’s leading sports and entertainment venue. It is used for differenct sports events as well as concerts.
“We have an unbelievable arena, the Arena Armeec, not only the size, but for the tournament. The press centre, players’ lounge and locker rooms are perfectly designed. It’s a very good surface and a beautiful arena. I have spoken to the players and they all sound very positive about the event.”
The players met on Monday for the official player’s party at Hotel Marinela Sofia and local Alexander Lazov, who made his ATP World Tour debut earlier the day added:“It’s very good for the country and for Bulgarian tennis players, who can train here and see top players compete. For sure I can learn something from this event and it will inspire me to improve my ranking.”
Photos from the player’s party can be found on the tournament’s official homepage.